Barcelona are currently strolling to yet another La Liga title, 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid. The Catalonia-based club has defied expectations as they seamlessly transitioned through the loss of Neymar.
Neymar's record-breaking transfer to PSG saw Barcelona lose a crucial figure in their formidable front-three. Yet Ernesto Valverde made the decision to bring in Paulinho and move to a 4-4-2 with more security through the centre.
Messi has given an interview to World Soccer's magazine today and explained Neymar's departure has resulted in an improvement in overall style and more balance.
Neymar's departure has changed our way of playing. We lose lots of attacking potential but it helped us in a defensive sense. Right now we're very well armed in the centre of the pitch. We have more balance.
Messi also revealed his son is starting to be influenced by the fanfare around the Argentinian.
Being a father is the most beautiful thing that has happened to me, you see things in a different way, my life is centered in my children, I take them to school in the morning and when I return home I go to look for Thiago. When he leaves the school, we try to spend time together with Antonella and Mateo until dinner, we put them to bed and then, nothing, spending time between us, like any family, Mateo (the little one) is surprised that they ask me for a photo or an autograph. He does not understand, Thiago is beginning to understand, more or less, he goes to the stadium, but he does not understand it completely, sometimes at home he calls me "Messi".
It's certainly true that Barcelona's new formation has reaped dividends this season. Even during a slump in Suarez's form, they were able to compensate with a stronger defence (in five of their last six games they have kept a clean sheet.)
Neymar meanwhile has been superb for PSG since his move, with 15 league goals already this season. So far, it seems the move has been beneficial for both parties.
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